Konta moves into second round
Originally published on 17/01/17 00:00
On a hot day in Melbourne, when the temperature was 32oC by 11am, Konta battled to a 7-5 6-2 victory on Margaret Court Arena.
Konta arrived in Melbourne at the weekend after victory at the Apia International in Sydney, where she had played in similar conditions to the hot and humid conditions.
“Last week in Sydney, we experienced something a lot hotter,” she said commenting that it was the opposition that Flipkens presented that was the more challenging aspect of Tuesday's match.
“She's got this great ability at really frustrating her opponents with some of the balls she's able to hit. She's very creative in that way, so I think I was really happy I was able to work myself into the match and through it, to come through."
Flipkens is currently ranked No.70 in the world but was ranked No.13 four years ago and she has a game with much variety that accounts for the fact that she posted 24 main draw match wins last year, and reached the third final of her career at Monterrey, where she beat Konta in the quarter-finals before losing to Heather Watson in the final.
The first set lasted 51 minutes and having consolidated a break of serve, Konta was broken back by her opponent to level the set at 5-5. Konta was able to break the Belgian back and then served out the set with a love game. The No.9 seed won 15 of 22 net points and used all the craft she has of the game to move her opponent around the court in an intense set. Hitting 12 winners and winning two of four break points Konta made 15 unforced errors.
The second set was as keenly contested but Konta remained in control, wrapping the match up in an hour and 36 minutes, winning 76% of first serve points and taking four out of ten break points, while saving three out of four of Flipkens'.
“I feel very happy to have worked my way through that match. First rounds are always difficult for numerous reasons,” she said.
Her next opponent is Naomi Osaka, who came from a set down to beat wildcard Luksika Kumkhum 6-7(2) 6-4 7-5. The pair met once before in qualifying for the 2015 US Open, where Konta won in straight sets. Osaka, 19, who is Japanese by birth but now based in Florida, has had a meteoric rise to reach a career high of No.40 in October 2016, coming from outside the Top 200 at the start of last year.
“I remember her playing once in the US Open, 2015, I think, in the quallies”, Konta said, “ since then, she's improved a lot. I have tried to, as well. I know she plays a big game. She has big shots. I'm definitely prepared to go in for a battle.”